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Sides Urged To Preserve Georgian-Abkhaz Ceasefire

Secretary-General urges all sides to preserve Georgian-Abkhaz ceasefire

28 July 2008 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on the Georgian and Abkhaz sides to preserve the integrity of their ceasefire regime, noting that the last four months have witnessed a resurgence of tensions between the two sides.

"I have consistently stressed the need for strict observance of the ceasefire and separation-of-forces regime in the area of responsibility of UNOMIG [the UN Observer Mission in Georgia] in order to prevent a resumption of hostilities and create a climate conducive to dialogue between the two sides," Mr. Ban writes in his latest report on the situation in Abkhazia, Georgia.

"Unfortunately, after a period of relative stability in the winter, the last four months have witnessed a resurgence of tensions stemming from, inter alia, clear disagreements as to what constitutes observance or violation of the ceasefire regime," he adds.

"I underline the need for all involved to observe the most rigorous separation of forces on land, at sea and in the air, with the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] peacekeeping force having responsibility for the enforcement of that separation," he states.

The Secretary-General appeals to the Abkhaz side to respect the UN mission's freedom of movement and asks the Georgian side to do the same with the CIS peacekeeping force.

He also notes that the recent increase in tensions did not involve only the ceasefire regime, pointing to the bombings and roadside explosions that took place from 29 June to 6 July on both sides of the ceasefire line. Indiscriminate bombing in public places on the Abkhaz side left four people dead, including one UNOMIG staff member, and 18 wounded.

"I am deeply concerned by this resort to indiscriminate violence, an unprecedented development with unpredictable consequences for a fragile peace process," he writes.

The Secretary-General also describes the deteriorating relations between Georgia and Russia, noting its effects on the Georgian-Abkhaz issue.

"While the UNOMIG mandate is limited to the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict," he says, "both the conflict prevention and conflict resolution dimensions of its mandate are significantly affected by this deterioration in the relationship between key actors in the process and the polarizing effect it has on the broader international context."

Meanwhile, the negotiation process between the Georgian and Abkhaz sides has remained suspended since Mr. Ban's previous report in April.

Against this backdrop, an assessment of the peace process is currently being undertaken, which includes consultations with the two parties and those international organizations and Member States, including the Group of Friends, that have been most directly involved in the process.

Mr. Ban says he intends to report to the Security Council on the outcome of the assessment, which will explore the possibility of a coordinated international response to avert further worsening of the political and security situation.


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